Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Experiencing America

Yeah OK, I know, I totally suck at the whole regular blogging thing. To be honest though, you haven't missed much, I've mostly been working , or chilling. I started writing about "Fall" over a month ago, but never finished it. So I will do an update soon.

Today though I really want to tell you all about some recent adventures: a trip to Washington DC, finally! And Thanksgiving!

Baltimore is really close to the nation's capital, so it's a little ridiculous that I haven't made it there before now. But it was certainly worth the wait. We nearly went on an insanely hot weekend at the end of June and I'm soooooo glad we didn't because we worked out that we walked nearly 13 miles, not including wandering around two museums! Not something to be done in 40C heat and 100% humidity! As it was though, the mid-November weather was perfect: bright, sunny and crisp.

Baltimore Penn station

We started the day with a walk to Baltimore's Penn station (also not included in the 13 miles I think!) and caught the train to Washington's Union station, both conveniently located for our needs :) We headed straight for the Capitol building, the seat of the US Congress (please bear in mind that most things I know about US politics come from West Wing! And also that we're only on series 5, so no spoilers please!). Anyway, it is much bigger than I realised and has a statue of George Washington on top.

Only 11 days after the US election (btw, what a relief!), and they'd already started setting up for the inauguration, two months from now!

It wasn't long before I had my first glimpse of the view down the Mall to the Washington Monument. There are loads of Smithsonian museums lining either side of the Mall. Having reached the Monument (it's much bigger than Baltimore's, but nowhere near as pretty!) we took a little detour to visit the White House! It was difficult to get a decent photo because of all the tourists, but it was pretty exciting! Much much smaller than I expected though!

Then it was back to the Mall to see all the memorials: WWII, Vietnam and Korean (at which point my camera ran out, so lots of the photos in this post were taken by N); and Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Roosevelt and Jefferson. By now our feet and legs were already starting to niggle at us, but we still decided it was a good idea to cross the Potomac (which turns out to be wide!) into Virginia to see the Pentagon! So not only did I leave Maryland for the first time since arriving in the US, I also got to visit another state! :D

Having seen all the sights, we dragged ourselves back to the Mall for lunch at the American History museum, where the highlight was seeing the original American flag, which inspired their national anthem. Both of these things were made more exciting by the fact that the flag was made in Baltimore and the song inspired by the sight of the flag flying over a local fort during a battle in which the Americans beat us pesky Brits against all the odds. I also enjoyed the American Presidents + First Lady exhibits, but overall the museum wasn't all that interesting I thought. I know America doesn't have quite as much history as Europe, but I still felt there must have been more to it!

Finally we went around the Natural History museum which I really need to go back to because by that point I really wasn't taking anything in. I can't remember the last time I was so knackered by a day out, but it was totally worth it, and I can't wait to go back again! For more pictures see my Facebook here, or ask me for a link!

You can't even see the Pentagon behind me can you? That is definitely Virginia though!

I know this is a really long post, but I also really want to mention Thanksgiving, as another great American experience. I originally intended to work, so we were really grateful to receive an invitation to a real American feast from one of my lovely colleagues. It was awesome! Turkey with all the trimmings, which included mash potato, broccoli, homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce and rolls, and sweet potato mash with marshmallows on top, which is infinitely more amazing than it sounds! And three pies: pecan, pumpkin and traditional Dutch apple (that last one by N of course). We really enjoyed it, and I enjoyed making my way through a pile of leftovers this past weekend!

Stay tuned for an update on American autumn soon!

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